George Fox’s Marriage Proposal

Dear friends,

Something was upon me to write to you
regarding those Friends who marry,
that instead of providing great dinners on such occasions,
it would be good if they were put in mind
to give something to the poor,
the widows and fatherless and such –
to make them a feast, or at least to refresh them.

And this, I feel, would be a very good savor:
to feast the poor who cannot feast you in return.
It would be a good practice and example,
and a means of keeping the mind to the Lord
in remembering the poor,
for “they that give to the poor, lend to the Lord,
and the Lord will repay them.”

And I do really believe that,
whatever you give cheerfully,
less or more according to your ability,
you will not have the less at the year’s end,
for “the Lord loves a cheerful giver.”

I know this was done by some twenty years ago.

And don’t just give the poor a little victuals
that you cannot eat yourselves:
give them a little of the money
that the Lord has blessed you with,
and give it to some of the women’s meetings
to be distributed to the poor;
thus you will have the blessings of the Lord
and the blessings of the poor,
and be of a free, noble spirit,
not like churlish misers, niggards, and narrow spirits.

This I do recommend to you –
though it may seem a little strange –
to weigh and consider.
It would be of both a good report and a good savor,
a manifestation of self-denial and openness of heart,
and of the general love of God.

George Fox
London, the 4th of the 4th month, 1690
(arranged and paraphrased by George Amoss Jr.)

NOTES:

  • “Something was upon me”: the phrase “the hand of the Lord was upon me” and close variants appear numerous times in the Bible.
  • “They that give to the poor lend to the Lord, and the Lord will repay them” – Proverbs 19:17.
  • “God loves a cheerful giver” – 2 Cor. 9:7b.
  • “I know this was done by some twenty years ago” (originally, “I know this practice hath been used by some twenty years ago”): George Fox and Margaret Fell married in 1669; perhaps he is referring to their wedding.

Source: George Fox, Epistle CCCCXIX — Collected Works, Vol 8, 1831 edition, pp. 309-310. LINK

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